Former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem likely felt like the new kid at school when he arrived at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA.
Overeem was thrust into working with some of the biggest stars in the world, including current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
While it has been well-documented that it was Overeem who Jones was grappling with when his knee injury occurred, “The Reem” truly believes it was all just a “freak accident.”
“It was very innocent,” he said, during a recent appearance on UFC Tonight. “It happened in warm up. It was a freak accident. Nothing intentionally happened.
“I was bummed, too, that the fight isn’t happening.”
The injury forced officials to postpone a planned Jones vs. Daniel Cormier contest for this month to January. Overeem, meanwhile, makes his return to the Octagon Friday night at UFC Fight Night 50 to face Ben Rothwell.
Overeem (37-13) scored his first win this past February since his UFC debut in 2011 when he defeated Frank Mir. In 2013, Overeem lost via knockout to both Travis Browne and Antonio Silva.
“I’m learning every day,” Overeem said, of the move to Jackson-Winkeljohn. “I went in with an open mindset. It was the right choice. Everyone is fantastic. I’m expecting good results from the high altitude training.”
In Rothwell (33-9), Overeem will be facing a man likely to be bigger when they step inside the cage. Rothwell has won three of his last five fights overall.
“Ben’s a big guy – 260-to-265 pounds – (and) he hits hard,” Overeem said. “He’s going to be strong. I have to watch out for the overhand right. He has a good left hook.
“But the submission game, not so much. I’m ready. There’s a lot of new stuff I’m going to show you.”